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Cannibal Holocaust
Nackt und zerfleischt

Italy 1980
produced by
Franco Di Nunzio, Franco Palaggi for F.D. Cinematografica
directed by Ruggero Deodato
starring Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Gabriel Yorke, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Fuentes, Paolo Paoloni, Lionello Pio Dio Savoia, Luigina Rocchi, Lucia Costantini, Enrico Papas
written by Gianfranco Clerici, music by Riz Ortolani

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Wanting to make a documentary about the savage, cannibal tribes there, Alan (Gabriel Yorke) & his team - Faye (Francesca Ciardi), Jack (Perry Pirkanen] & Mark (Luca Barbareschi) - somehow disappear in the Amazon jungle, & doctor Monroe (Robert Kerman) is sent after them in an attempt to find them ... but he can only find signs of their death, until eventually he finds an horrible totem, made out of their bones & out of their camera equipment ... but however difficult it might be, Monroe can establish (peaceful) contact with the two tribes Alan's team has vistited, notice they are not quite as savage as he has thought them to be, & eventually he can even persuade them to give him the cans of film that belonged to Alan's team.

Back in New York, a tv-station gets hold of the film, & think it has the scoop of the year, wanting to make a documentary about these violent primitives out of it, with professor Monroe hosting the show. Monroe agrees, but he insists on previewing the material beforehands, trying to find out what made these reasonably friendly natives kill Alan & company in such a ghastly manner ... & it's a good thing he did insist on that, too ...

Alan & crew were notorious for getting the goriest details out of any story, & if the story itself wasn't gory enough, they would stage a few scenes ... & in the Amazon jungle, they would be no different, occasionally shooting natives or burning their huts to spice things up a bit, & in one scene Alan makes love to Faye in front of the whole native village just to show them who's the boss. LAter they even rape a woman, then stake her, just for documentary purposes ... but that earns them the wrath of a whole native tribe, who soon comes after the team, outnumbering them even with their guns, & one after the other they are brutally picked up, mutilated & killed (in that order), but still, they acannot resist putting the footage on camera ...

Disgusted by the material & especially the depravity of Alan's team, the tv-network's boss orders to have the material burned ... but a macabre post script tells us the projectionist sold it anyway, for a quarter of a million dollars ...

 


Flix.com

Even in its heyday, the cannibal movie genre was widely regarded as one of the mnost despicable genres there is - & with some justification I might add -, for its straightforward presentation of everything ghastly, its dismissive treatment of primitive cultures, & its (hidden) celebration of the white man as master race.

Cannibal Holocaust however is the exception to the rule (even if in its time it wasn't regarded as one): Its a clever media satire about the civilized white man coming to the jungle to exploit the primitives in any way imaginable, until the primitive is pushed far enough to retaliate - which of course poses the question who really is the primitive - & at the end of the film, the audience's sympathies are clearly with the natives ...

All of this is told in sort-of flashback, during the eyes of someone who wants to find out what really did happen to a documentary filmteam, & who only has the film material to go on ... a narrative ploy that was later repeated in Blair Witch Project, actually, but with all the media satire (& the gore) omitted ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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directed by
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written by
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